Construction of St. George’s Church started in 1726, finally being complete in 1734. It occupied the site once occupied by Liverpool’s imposing Castle. The building would have a long and interesting history, surviving until its demolition in 1899/00. At that time, some 800 bodies remained in 160 vaults, and in October 1900, despite some objections, it was agreed to remove them:
The delicate task was carried out by Mr. William Standing of Garston, and the work was underway by December 1900:
Prior to the commencement of demolition, a correspondent from the Liverpool Daily Post, seemingly somewhat reluctantly, went into the crypt, ‘among the dead men, dead women, and dead children buried there in great numbers ‘
The fascinating report of his visit was carried over three articles, and can be read in full in the following slideshow:
History and photography are great bedfellows, so, as I tend to do, on having taken a photograph of a familiar Liverpool building, I then wanted to know more about its history. This was the case with the former Venice Chambers on Lord Street, now home to the very popular Rococo café:
Often it is a process of confirming what I knew, or thought I knew, but it is always more rewarding uncovering history I had not previously come across. This was certainly the case this time. Already knowing the buildings connection with the famous Bear’s Paw Restaurant, this became a starting point. I would very soon be focusing on the fascinating Cobham family. The story that follows is one of family tradition, adventurous travels, social change, and business dealings, but let’s start at the beginning….way back in 1832:
NOW UPDATED WITH A GREAT PICTURE OF THE BEAR’S PAW IN 1925
A building that comes from a key trade in Liverpool, a building sadly in disrepair:
HISTORY: No.10-16 Victoria Street was built in 1888 as a railway goods depot for the London & North Western Railway, a reminder can just about still be seen on the façade today:
The original LNWR building was constructed to serve Exchange Station on Tithebarn Street (the first station was built in 1850 and a larger version constructed in 1886-8; this eventually closed in 1950).
The Victoria Street building was converted into the Fruit Exchange in 1923 by James B Hutchins, and opened on 14th January 1924. After its change of use the Fruit Exchange became the main trading point for fruit produce within the city, and dealt with the majority of fruit imports coming into Liverpool. Warehouses in the Mathew Street area behind were used to store the fruit sold at the exchange. Just twelve months later the exchange was extended, with the formal opening on 5th January 1925.
In the late C20 the lower ground floor was converted into separate public houses. In 2008 the building was designated Grade II Listed:
The Fruit Exchange is owned by Cloudbluff Properties, whose director, Robert McGorrin, has been hoping to secure a viable long-term future for it since 2009.
He says: “It’s a great building – the auction rooms are unbelievable. There is so much history attached to the place.”
Footnote: I am advised that the owners have been carrying out some work to preserve the structural integrity of the building. As for future usage the Grade II listing of the building limits the alterations that can be made. Options are being explored.
The plans accompanying the 85-bedroom hotel application can be viewed here: What this will mean for the historic elements of the building is always a concern, but with regard to the two auction rooms, the developer says “auction rooms to be retained and restored to best possible condition. Propose to use area at back of large auction rooms as a bar area. Potential for both auction rooms to be used by the Hotel for functions, lectures, conferences etc”
The planning application has not yet been actioned.
Update: 2022 – the printers that have for the last few years occupied the ground floor units have moved out. Unfortunately, the Heaven Club have seen fit to plaster the façade with banners, causing more damage to the deteriorating stonework etc.
The Rialto was of course much more than a cinema, and the opening would also feature a ball in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Hospital Fund. Visitors could also take advantage of the Garden Café and Grill. The Liverpool Echo would describe the interior of the Rialto as ‘staggering’, and the opening was clearly a success –
Trying to move with the times, the Rialto presented its, and Merseysides, first 3-D colour presentation on 3rd August 1953, with Paramount’s “Sangaree” starring Arlene Dahl and Fernando Lamas
Enjoy the slides!
After a relatively short period of success the Rialto would close on 29th February 1964, with Doris Day in “The Thrill of it All”. Initially, as many, the building was turned over to Bingo, but the ballroom carried on until 17th July 1965. The building was eventually leased by Swainbanks Ltd in 1972, who converted it into commercial premises selling second-hand and antique furniture. It was as Swainbanks that the building would succumb to the Toxteth Riots in the summer of 1981 – a sad end for a fine building.
It is widely known that Charles Dickens, for one evening, enrolled as a Special Constable in Liverpool. This was one of various visits to the town, and the purpose on this occasion was to research for a piece titled ‘Poor Mercantile Jack’
The bridewell, or police station, Dickens was based in is often cited as the Argyle Street Bridewell, which now once again is a fine bar/restaurant. Being very close to the then bustling docks, it would indeed have been an ideal base from which to patrol.
In 2004 a plaque was indeed unveiled to mark the visit of Dickens:
However, I read a suggestion that in fact it was not the Argyle Street bridewell that Dickens was based at, and it was actually the one off Seel/Berry Street. This caught my attention and I thought I would do a little research. See the attached PDF for my conclusions
In 1955 the Liverpool Echo published a ten-week series of articles on Liverpool shipping, supported by some excellent illustrations. I have collated them here to make what is hopefully an interesting read: PDF
Reina del Pacifico
Royal Daffodil II
ALL CUTTINGS COPYRIGHT OF BRITISH NEWSPAPER ARCHIVES
TJs is one of those Liverpool institutions of which everyone has a memory and opinion. It has been an integral part of London Road life since 1912, and it will be a sad day for many when this is no longer the case. A scenario now on the horizon – Hughes House is to be demolished, and Audley House converted to residential.
Beit the ‘Dancing Waters’ Christmas grotto, first school uniforms, a first or Saturday job, or simply shopping, many will have a TJs tale to tell. The history of its founder, Thomas John Hughes, and the empire he developed is fascinating, and in one particular circumstance, tragic. Add to that the formidable sounding mum, Anne Hughes, and we have a great story.
How London Road and the ‘Fabric District’ will respond to the changes about to beset it will be interesting, and hopefully positive, certainly one to watch.
This has been another fascinating history to compile, and as ever has been heavily reliant upon an invaluable subscription to British Newspaper Archive from which, you will find many cuttings telling the story of TJs.
At this point I will class it as a work-in-progress and will be updating on an ongoing basis. Please do get in touch if you can add further information, or share your own memories of TJs.
In the aftermath of World War II, and in particular the devastating bombing that Merseyside had suffered, it is no surprise that people were treasuring more than ever that which had survived. Historic buildings in Liverpool in particular had been hard hit by the bombers that brought horror to the city in 1940-41. Subsequent decisions exacerbated the loss of some iconic structures. Post-war planning was now another threat to the built heritage of the city, and there was every possibility that further buildings would now be sacrificed in the name of modernising Liverpool. One of the key aims of the ‘Recording Merseyside’ project was to stimulate further the general publics, and decision makers, consciousness of our architectural surroundings, and its contribution to both our understanding of the past, and to continuity moving forward.
The exhibition, attended by just under 10,000 people, was hosted by The Bluecoat from Monday 8th October to 10th November 1945, and the Daily Post published reproductions of sixteen of the works exhibited. Thanks to the excellent resource now provided by British Newspaper Archive we can still read such articles, and I have taken the opportunity to collate them in a PDF file.
The ‘introduction’ in the PDF is from the Liverpool Daily Post of Wednesday 19th September 1945, and the individual pictures from publications running from 29th August 1945 – 5th November 1945. I have also added black & white versions of the illustrations.
Perhaps more so since than at the time, the demolition of Liverpool’s Revenue Building or 5th Custom House has sparked lots of debate over the years.
As an emotive topic it is perhaps understandable that ‘opinions’ have sometimes been used to replace ‘facts’ The following offers no opinion but simply provides the local reporting from 1946-48 for readers to enhance their knowledge of the circumstances that led to its demolition. PDF
First hit on 31st August 1940, it was on the nights of 3rd/4th May 1941 that the German bombers again hit the Custom House, fire bombs setting the building ablaze. The decision to demolish was first reported in October 1945.
‘Begrimed though it was the Liverpool Customs house was one of the finest and most impressive buildings the city possessed, second only to St. George’s Hall in its particular properties. The dignified Ionic porticos, the noble dome, and the amplitude of its symmetrical lay-out would have been notable in any company. In the service it ranked with the Customs houses in London and Dublin as a show place. When it was built, in 1828, John Foster, the city architect of his day, designed it to close the Castle Street vista at the South-end balancing it with the Town Hall at the other end. It was one of the most noteworthy buildings of its day, and attracted national attention. Its great size was an eloquent testimony to someone’s faith in the port as the provider of revenue for the Exchequer. The building was one of Liverpool’s first raid casualties, being damaged first on August 31, 1940, when bombs fell through the dome, which had to be dismantled. The building remained habitable until the May raids of the following year when it was hit on three successive nights, and since then it has not been occupied. Parts of it have already been pulled down, and there seems little doubt that the whole building will disappear before very long’